Traditionally, the waterfall process excludes developers from being involved in “non-development” meetings. This is for a number of reasons. Primarily it was seen as “not a developer’s responsibility”, where business analysts/lead designers/project managers, etc. would come up with the specification document and pass it across to developers to implement. There are also other reasons, such as “Developers are too busy” and “They don’t like being interrupted”.
But it’s important understand that customers prefer to be spoken to honestly rather than be subject to hand-waving, and that developers can provide key insights that other team members can’t.
Here are four reasons why it’s wise to include your developers in your business and design meetings:
1. Problems are spotted early
Developers can help spot a problem in the very early stages by performing ‘back of the envelope’ calculations on scale. This can prevent days or weeks of work before reaching that critical “oh crap” moment where it turns out that handling that kind of scale just isn’t possible.
2. The knowledge of involved risk is identified
Some of the biggest concerns and risks involved with building digital products and services are security and privacy. Developers can help prevent specific features that are impossible to implement securely or limit this risk when holding sensitive personal data. For example, if personal data needs to be encrypted for data security and privacy reasons, searching based on a name won’t work. Without this knowledge from a developer, these features could make it into your specification document and be implemented, exposing your customer and their platform users to data breach risk.
3. There may be easier ways of achieving what you’re doing
Developers are some of the largest users of digital products and services. They may even represent your target market. By including them in your business and design decisions, they may suggest easier ways of achieving the same or similar results by using already existing technologies and services.
4. It’s important to integrate design into the development process
The agile methodology focuses strongly on iteration. Excluding developers from design meetings, can encourage a silo mentality where design is “thrown over the wall” to the development side to implement. This wall blocks clear communication and can exclude developers into why some decisions have been made. Including developers in these scenarios helps to make design a part of the whole iterative process, where it can move from low fidelity to high fidelity as development progresses. This ensures that UX and visual design considerations progress together, and that problems can be identified and addressed before they get out of control. For this, it’s vital that UX and visual designers are part of your integrated development team.